Denny Smith

Dennis Alan "Denny" Smith (born January 19, 1938) is an American businessman and former United States congressman from the state of Oregon. A native of the state, he served in the Air Force before working in the airline industry and taking over the family's newspaper business. A Republican, he served ten years in Congress from 1981 until 1991. His father was former Oregon Governor Elmo Smith.

Denny Smith
Denny Smith 1993.jpg
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1991
Preceded byAl Ullman (2nd district)
New district (redistricting)
Succeeded byRobert F. Smith (2nd district)
Mike Kopetski (5th district)
Constituency2nd District (1981-1983)
5th District (1983-1991)
Personal details
Dennis Alan Smith

(1938-01-19) January 19, 1938 (age 83)
Ontario, Oregon, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Deanna Smith
(m. 1989; died 2011)
Alma materWillamette University

Early lifeEdit

Dennis Smith was born in the Eastern Oregon city of Ontario, Oregon, on January 19, 1938.[1] In 1956, he graduated from Grant Union High School in John Day and enrolled at Willamette University in Salem.[1]

He joined the United States Air Force in 1958, and served until 1960, when he joined the Oregon Air National Guard.[1] Smith then earned a bachelor of arts degree from Willamette in 1961.[1] He returned to the Air Force in 1962 and remained there until 1967,[1] serving as a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War.[2] In the war, he flew the F-4C Phantom and completed about 180 missions.[2] Smith remained in the aviation field as a flight engineer and co-pilot for a commercial airline, flying from 1967 until 1976.[1]

In 1968, he also took over the family's newspaper business when his father died.[2] He worked for Pan American Airlines, and in 1974 was chosen by fellow employees to serve as the union's lobbyist in Washington, DC.[2] He was inducted into the Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor in 2009.

Political careerEdit

Smith was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1980 to represent Oregon's 2nd congressional district as a Republican.[1] He defeated 12-term Democrat Al Ullman by only 3,700 votes.[2] Smith was undoubtedly helped by Ronald Reagan winning every county in the sprawling district.

For his first term, Smith represented a vast district that stretched from his home in the state capital, Salem, all the way to the Idaho border. When the 1980 census gave Oregon another congressional district, Smith's home in Salem, along with much of the western portion of the old 2nd, was placed in the newly created 5th district. He was elected from this district in 1982 and was reelected three more times. While in the House, Smith served on the Budget, the Interior and Insular Affairs, and Veterans' Affairs committees.

Photo of Denny Smith from the Congressional Pictorial Directory for the 97th Congress.

Smith was comfortably reelected in 1984 and 1986. In 1988, however, he was nearly defeated by Democratic State Representative Mike Kopetski, winning by only 707 votes. Kopetski sought a rematch in 1990 and won by attacking Smith for his ties to several collapsed savings and loans.[3] While still serving in Congress, Smith established and headed Oregonians Against Crime, which placed Oregon's 1988 Anti-crime Bill on the ballot by initiative petition and successfully campaigned for its passage. In 1994, Smith was the Republican nominee for Governor of Oregon, but lost to Democratic state Senate President John Kitzhaber.

He was also the Republican National Committeeman for Oregon up until 2000.

Later yearsEdit

Smith is now the chairman of Eagle Newspapers, a printing and publishing company in the Pacific Northwest.[4]

Family lifeEdit

Smith married Sandra in 1962 and was divorced in 1967, after the couple had one son.[2]

He married Kathleen Barrett, and they had three children, divorcing in 1986.[2] Smith married Deanna Marie Koenig in 1989.[5] Deanna died in 2011.[6]

The only son of former Oregon Governor Elmo Smith and his wife Dorothy,[2] he is also a cousin of Steve Symms, a former congressman and Senator from Idaho.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dennis Alan Smith". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Walth, Brent (April 10, 1994). "Under a Shadow". Register Guard. pp. 1–6A. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
  3. ^ Rasky, Susan F (1990-11-08). "Four Issues and How They Played at the Polls Before Uncertain Voters". New York Times. pp. B10. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
  4. ^ Eagle Newspapers: About Us
  5. ^ "Denny Smith plans honeymoon". The Register-Guard. November 21, 1989. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  6. ^ Har, Janie (28 December 2011). "Deanna Smith, first and only chairwoman of the Oregon GOP and wife of former Rep. Denny Smith, dies at 70". Retrieved 16 July 2019.

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
New constituency Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by
Republican nominee for Governor of Oregon
Succeeded by